Five things to do in Cambodia that don’t involve temples

The temples in Cambodia are pretty stunning, there is nothing quite like that image of Angkor Wat reflected in the water.

But after a while, the temples – there are about 72 of them – can become a bit like the castles and cathedrals on a European visit. Overwhelming. There is such as a thing as too much of a good thing after all!

But the temples aren’t the only things to see in Cambodia, they’re not even the only things to do in Siem Reap.

Don’t believe us? Try these five things to round out your adventure to this intriguing part of the world.

Visit TonLe Sap

Tonle Sap Lake is a 120 kilometre long lake that connects with the Mekong Delta, but the real reason for visiting the lake is to see the floating villages and life for the local Khmer and Vietnamese communities.

The shores of the lake are dotted with Khmer owned houses built high on stilts to accommodate for the rise and fall of the water levels depending on the season.

But as interesting as the shoreline is, take a motorboat and cruise through the vast waters.

The lake is thriving with floating villages, there’s a floating school, a fish farm.

Look out for the phone tower high on the riverbank just as you think you’ve come to the edge of civilisation.

Do a cooking class

Tucked away in the back streets of Siem Reap this unassuming school is well set up to take us through a Cambodian menu. We were all given our own hotplates and lots of instruction to get the spices just right for our local dishes.

The cooking class starts with a visit to a local market where your guide will point out the local delicacies and how to pick the best cut of meat.

And of course there’s lots of food to be eaten at the end of the class.

This is one class you don’t want to be late for and won’t want to skip out on!

Visit an Apsara show

If you haven’t seen a cultural show in Cambodia you’ll be amazed at how graceful the women are and how strong and agile the men are.

Take in an Apsara show over dinner and see the stories of Cambodia’s Khmer heritage told through dance.

The costumes are beautiful, and the performances enchanting.

Haggle at a market

There are lots of markets in Cambodia, and when I say lots, I mean lots! And in Siem Reap it feels like there is a market on just about every corner.

Just about anything you can think of buying is available at a market somewhere. Most markets won’t show the prices, and stall owners expect you to haggle. But be prepared to buy if and when they come down to your price.

And if you tell them you’ll come back later, be prepared to come back and buy – they will remember you!

At some of the markets we visited we were able to watch local artisans at work. And if a stall doesn’t have quite what you’re after, just ask, they’ll search it out from across their networks for you.

Have a cocktail, or a beer, in Pub Street.

No visit to Siem Reap is complete without having a drink on Pub Street. You could go during the day, but it really comes alive at night, when the street and shops are all lit up.

Pub Street is in the centre of town and is a good marker if you happen to get lost.

Drinks are cheap in Cambodia – think $2 cocktails and 50 cent beers. But even if you don’t drink, Pub Street is the place to sit and people watch. It’s a vibrant part of the city that draws tourists and locals alike.

You could go to Angkor What? if you want something really cheesy, or a piano bar if that’s more your scene. And if you want something with a view, check out the bars along the nearby riverfront instead. All are within walking distance of each other, and of course, you’ll pass a market or two along the way, just in case you need to buy something…

Want to see this for yourself? Check out our tour to Cambodia and Laos here.

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